Hidden behind these great grand white palace walls lie the superb recreational of the ancient palace with ornately carved golden pagodas, jewel-like-colored mosaic floors to walls, handcrafted furniture, antique chandeliers, and tailored-made Thai decor. This not-5-but-6-star resort has perfectly carved out a place in the past that reflects Lanna Kingdom at its most flourish time with utmost beauty and the richest heritage of Thai Northern Regime. Dhara Dhevi has done so with unparalleled attention to every single detail. These 60 acres of lush green landscape also comes with breathtakingly romantic view of terraced rice paddies, exotic plantation, tranquil farmland, serene lakes, multicolor lotus ponds, beautiful temple houses, and flower-filled gardens. As we entered through the gate of Dhera Dhevi, we have walked into a fairytale. This is definitely one of the most stunning properties in Thailand and definitely one of the most beautiful attractions you will ever see in Chiang Mai. If you are seeking for ultimate luxury with authentic and local cultural touches, look no further. Paradise of dreams is found within.
The Ancient Lanna Kingdom does not only cover Northern part of Thailand, it stretches as far as to some areas of present day Myanmar, China, and Laos, and Chiang Mai was the capital in 13th Century. 700 years later, Chiang Mai is still standing tall. Dhara Dhevi time-travels us back to experience the fine art, rich cultural heritage, authentic cuisine, and charming way of life in Lanna in those glorious days. As you stepped pass the palace wall of Dhara Dhevi Empire, the eye is captured by something exquisite at every turn. It is hard to imagine how much thought and effort they must put into creating this paradise. Just like in the past, the outer part of the city (in between the wall and the city gate) can be accessed by all; locals, foreigners, merchants, traders, and anyone passing through. This part represents the old town, there are local markets (selling everything from local handicrafts, silk wear, jewelry, all the way to silverware), colonial shopping village, small Moroccan courtyard, Fuijian – The Chinese Restaurant, Le Grande Lanna – Authentic Thai Restaurant, Allegro – Italian Restaurant, and Dhara Dhevi Cake Shop – With all you can eat sweets buffet (make sure you try their macarons; best flavors are classic ones – vanilla, caramel, and coffee, and non-classical – black truffle!).
As the 800 meters tall city gate opens, revealed the ultimate show stopper, the main entrance to Dhara Dhevi Resort, which represents the actual palace of this empire. The stone driveway leads us to the city square, in the middle is the grand white stairs that will lead you into the palace, and to the lobby area. On the left and right sides are city watch towers. The view is magnificent, does not matter how many times you have sent it, each and everything – it is always breathtaking and surreal. Leaving you feel likes the kings and queens checking into your palace. The design of the palace resembles that of Mandalay Palace but with extra grandeur touches. The palace has many-tiered pavilion or Pyatthats with golden pinnacle that rises over the gateway and topped on the white bastion, the Pyatthats over the middle gates have seven tiers (in the past this is the pathway used by loyalty) while those on the rest have only five or less. The entire palace is embellished with ornate moldings and sculptures depicting mystical creatures and sacred animals. Undoubtedly, Dhara Dhevi is the attraction itself, a high-end living museum.
The two compounds (The Colonial Suite and Thai Villas) of the resort really do offer the best of both worlds, a place where traditional Lanna heritage and Asian colonial splendor have seamlessly blended together in harmony. The Colonial suite compound brings you back to 19th Century with east meets west grand architecture as the Olympic sized Colonial Pool lies behind the four corners of the multi-tiered pavilions and pagodas of the palace main entrance, creating the picturesque scenery. Thai Villa Compound takes you back to the 13th century Lanna Kingdom, where the nobles live in the 2 stories teakwood houses in the barn. We are staying at The Grand Deluxe Pool Villa. The ground floor has small pantry, large living room, swimming pool, and outdoor sofa lounging area while the upper floor has the sleeping quarters, a luxuriously appointed bathroom, and large relaxation balcony with outdoor Jacuzzi.
It was hard to find any reason to leave the villa and the resort itself. You have 3 different pools to yourself; first your villa pool, second the grand colonial pool, and third the two-layers Loy Kram Pool. Feeling like break a sweat, the gym opens 24 hours and from here you can rent your own bicycle (kid size bicycles are also available, yes, I’m 155 cm tall so this is exactly what I need hahaha :). We roam around the hotel all day everyday by the bicycle; make sure to visit the small temples! And drum roll please, yes now I am able to ride the bicycle! Finally! People always ask about your fun facts, one of many of mine was that I cannot ride a bicycle! I know! Hahaha. Well my parents didn’t want me or my sisters to badly scar ours legs, so they ended up never take off the supporting wheels. 28 years later I finally can ride with no supporting wheels and no I did not scar my legs! Thank you Dhara Dhevi!!!
Well back to the story, the resort also has its very own cultural department; teaching you how to weave the basket, how to cultivate rice, how to paint the Lanna Authentic umbrellas, how to do the Thai dance, how to ride water buffalo, and among many other things. Fancy a treatment? You are in great hands, Dhara Dhevi Spa is one of world’s most beautiful spas you will ever see and no this is not an overstatement. This palatial 3,100 sqm teakwood sanctuary is created by 150 Chiang Mai artisans from the original Burmese template in Mandalay of Burma for 3 years and a half. No wonder why it is magically crafted, each and every inch is embellished with original detail and story. The stunning seven-tiered roof is designed to present seven steps to heaven and the attainment of spiritual and physical perfection. The treatment to go for is the Ayurveda Oil Massage, originated in India 5,000 years ago and known as the oldest heeling of science in existence.
Talking about food, there are 8 different mouth-watering restaurants, cafes, and bars – all comes with beautiful settings and ambience! Our favorites are Le Grand Lanna and Farang Ses. Le Grand Lanna is serving authentic Thai cuisine and as you are enjoying your food and sipping down your Mai Thai you can enjoy the beautiful Thai dance performance all throughout your dinner. Farang Ses is serving beautifully presented and equally delicious French Cuisine, wine and dine under the candle lights and along live piano music that elevates the ambience.
Chiang Mai, we will always love you. Dhara Dhevi, thank you for taking us back in time to the fantastical Loyal Lanna Kingdom and for letting us relive the nostalgic past. As our 4-magical-day-holiday-in-paradise has come to an end, we inhale the beauty and tranquility of the northern lives, pack this mystic view into our suitcases, and safely deposit yet another amazing voyage to our bank of life well-travelled memories. Until we meet again, my dearest.